Well its official – Melbourne’s status as a bike city has now been formally bestowed upon us by the state government. News that Melbourne would become recognised as a Bike City was released a few days ago. Perhaps they accurately predicted the world’s cycling spotlight would be beaming down upon us after Cadel’s incredible win?
The article suggests this is some kind of branding excercise aimed at attracting the cyclo-tourist’s dollar. Bicycle Victoria have done extensive research into the kinds of spending habits and socio-economic benefits that bicycle tourism brings to a region. Campaigning efforts to build the Woodend Rail Trail are based on the socio-economic benefits that attracting bicycle tourists will bring.
And its an argument that really does add up. Our recent experiences whilst completing the 7 Peaks Alpine challenge meant we spent 7 weekends during last summer and autumn travelling to the Victorian ski villages (during their off-season when they need the business most) and riding up the mountains. Although we didn’t always spend the night – we alwaysspent alot of money at the local bakery to fuel the hill climb ; ) The regional rail trails have also provided us always a good reason to visit an area like Bright, Warburton or Rutherglen, and often give us an excuse to go back again.
If targeting a tourist market encourages improvements and investment in infrastructure then great! Whilst some parts of Melbourne have pretty good cycling infrastructure (thank you Moreland City Council) there’s always room for massive improvement at relatively little cost. Let’s hope this new status encourages some investment in better cycling lanes… and more bike parking racks throughout the CBD would be handy too.
Maybe its time Ron Walker and Louise Asher take on Drew’s idea to expand the Tour Down Under and turn it into a truly national race that attracts the kind of crowds you might see at the Tour or Giro? I can see it now… Margaret River and Clare Valley Stages, some grueling hills climbs up Mt Hotham, Baw Baw and Falls Creek, some rolling hills through Kinglake and the Dandenongs, down the east coast of Tassie and across to Cradle Mountain, a stretch down the Sturt Hwy past Uluru and a couple of sprint stages down Clover Moore’s news Sydney bike lanes and a final procession stage down Beach Road!